Indelible, a heart-warming documentary on people with Down syndrome, was screened recently in the city

Archana: I am my father’s daughter

Ashwin: I make everyone happy

Babli: I am precious

Revathy: I am a poet

Arti: I can do anything

Manimegalai: I am a survivor

Sandhya: I am beautiful

The words appear on screen as the camera traces their smiling faces. These people are among the happiest in the world. They laugh easily. They love unconditionally. For them, life is a happy story filled with happy characters. They take Down syndrome in their stride, so do their loved ones. Why not make a movie about them and show the world how happy they are, thought Surekha Ramachandran who has been working for the cause of people with Down’s. Thus was born Indelible. The 60-minute documentary has been directed by filmmaker Pavitra Chalam. A 16-minute version of it was screened recently in the city.

Indelible is the story of a happy bunch of people with Down’s. “All of them were raised by me,” says Dr. Surekha. “The reason we made this film was to break the tradition of institutionalisation of those with Down’s. Society needs to be inclusive. These people are so lively. We want to show them that way, as opposed to how they are usually portrayed.”

The documentary presents beautiful snippets about seven individuals, to the accompaniment of a heart-warming background score and Dr. Surekha’s voice-over. Her daughter Babli is among the heroines of the movie. It’s Babli’s birth that sparked-off Dr. Surekha’s mission to help children with Down’s. “My search for answers began with her. She gave me a purpose. She has been a guru; she taught me so much. Today, I am what I am because of her,” she says.

The others in the film include Manimegalai, a youngster from a low-income background, and 66-year-old Revathy, a woman of words. “I like to talk, you know. It is very nice…” she says. Then there’s Ashwin, the passionate cricketer who is the “star of the family”; Arti, the ever-independent; Bharatanatyam dancer Sandhya, who shows that “there is something called perfection”; Archana, who won a gold medal for cycling in the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games held at Athens…

Memories...

Pavitra spent a year making the documentary. “It’s hard to describe what the experience was like…The children have left memories that cannot be erased. Which is why we called the film Indelible,” she said.

For Dr. Surekha, the movie is a tool to show the world how people with Down’s really are. “If you are happy, they are happy. They too fall in and out of love, they too like to hold hands and walk in the beach…”